The Law Offices of Brian E. Quinn

Do malpractice claims prompt medical license investigations?

Is the path to mental health recovery as straightforward as treatments for physical ailments? For example, if something goes awry and a mental health patient commits suicide, should that behavior have been foreseen? 

Although any medical procedure may have inherent risks, the odds for improvement may be more uncertain when it comes to mental health treatments. A recent lawsuit provides context.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that a former patient’s mental health worker and his employer should be held liable under a wrongful death lawsuit. Unfortunately, the troubles for a medical professional named in a malpractice lawsuit often continue beyond any patient's claim. The applicable licensing board may also conduct an investigation, possibly throwing a health professional’s ability to earn a livelihood into jeopardy. 

The particular licensing board varies by profession: In Pennsylvania, doctors are accountable to the State Board of Medicine, and the licensing board for nurses is the State Board of Nursing. According to the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website, the State Board of Nursing is entrusted with several functions for ensuring the safety of the state’s citizens, including establishing standards of practice and disciplining licensees for violations.

The process of a professional license investigation usually starts with a complaint filed with the state’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs. The bureau may send an investigator to talk with the licensee in question. However, our law firm would caution against answering an investigator’s questions outside the presence of an attorney. Although the investigator's visit may seem informal, any negative statements could have the evidentiary impact of an admission. To avoid self-incrimination and preserve a strong defense, consult with an attorney. 

Source: Associated Press, “Senator sues state, mental health officials over son's death,” Larry O’Dell, Jan. 5, 2016

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